One Billion Journeys: Wang Fuchun’s Chinese on the Train

I’ve always had a passion for photography, there’s something so magical about capturing a moment for the rest of eternity, a snapshot, a memory, all taken in a millisecond and forever immortalised.

I remember forcing my friends to pose for pictures, either on results day or dressing my bestie in an outfit made from my mums scarves and using a ‘black and white’ film to get the most dramatic look possible…the things I made them do, but the finished product was incredible and I loved showing off my portfolio of my captured moments to anyone who gave me the time.

So when I was asked to attend the One Billion Journeys: Wang Fuchun’s Chinese on the Train exhibition at the National Train Museum in York, I grabbed my camera and jumped on the train from Leeds to York and I’m submerged myself in Wang’s world.


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It was really inspiring to hear Wang’s story and although Wang didn’t speak English; it was apparent in Wang’s gestures, smile and gorgeous appreciation of his wife (who bowed to us audience of smiling clappers) that he loved discovering and stealing those secret human  moments on-board the Chinese rail network.

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The exhibition itself showcases 43 pieces which provide a lovely snapshot of the diversity and simplicity of life on china’s railways. Wang captures the simplest delicate moments, like a lovers kiss, children playing with their parents & sleeping passengers, unassuming but beautifully honest, capturing emotions which we can all connect with. Wang describes himself as a thief, someone who stole people’s moments in time, and he’s right, his stealthy, slick approach has given us ‘in the moment’ seconds of a travellers life, instead of the premeditated and contrived world of selfies that we now inhabit.

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There is also a slight sadness to Wang’s images, something some people might see as natural progression, but personally, the stark change in Wang’s work over the years really made an impact. Those warm cosy moments of passengers huddled together, eating together, living together through their journey had changed to isolated passengers lost in their phones, laptop, iPads and slick leather seats.

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The exhibition really evokes emotions, especially with Wang’s little captions that accompany each photograph, it’s beautiful to understand why Wang took the picture in the first place and what emotions he felt when he pressed the button, encapsulating the moment in front of him forever. 

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Before I give anymore away, my suggestion to you is just visit the National Railway Museum and see this exhibition for yourself, it’s a beautiful intimate gallery of the lives of travellers on the Chinese rail network over the last 40 years, combining the old with the most recent ways of travelling and showcasing the changes in their habits and the world we live in, it’s quite extraordinary and gorgeous…plus, its FREE! Exhibiting from 24th May- 11th August in the Gallery. Station Hall.

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